MOH & NCDA to Meet Over Ganja Research

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Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, says a meeting will be held between technocrats in the Ministry and the National Council on Drug Abuse, NCDA.

This, after the drug abuse council distanced itself from a claim by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Winston De La Hay.

Dr. De La Hay had asserted that there’s been an approximately 50-percent increase in adolescents seeking medical treatment for ganja use since this was decriminalized in 2015.

Dr. Tufton says other experts — including personnel from the University of the West Indies — will be invited to the meeting which is to take place this week.

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Chief Medical Officer, Dr. De La Hay has argued that there’s been a 50 percent increase in the number of under-aged persons seeking treatment for ganja use.

De La Hay cited data from the National Council on Drug Abuse to support his claim.

But this week UWI Professor, Wendel Abel and ganja lobbyist, Delano Seiveright, said the data from the council has been wrongly interpreted by him.

Yesterday, Executive Director of the NCDA, Micheal Tucker, also distanced the council from Dr. De La Hay’s suggestion.

Mr. Tucker says the Council cannot definitively say ganja use among under-aged persons has increased since the weed was decriminalized.

He says what’s increased is the demand for programmes offered by the council.

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Mr. Tucker says the fact that that the new law has mandated that under-aged persons caught using ganja should be referred to the Council may have led to the increase in demand for the services of the NCDA.

Dr. Tufton says the stakeholder meeting is intended to bring more clarity.

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In the meantime, Dr. Tufton says it’s crucial that the definitive reasons be determined for the increase in demand for services offered by the National Council on Drug Abuse.

The Health Minister says he supports a call by UWI Professor, Wendel Abel, for a national study on the issue.

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Dr. Tufton says the law which decriminalized use of small amounts of ganja was passed in 2015 without adequate public education.

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Abka Fitz-Henley is a multiple award-winning journalist who is currently the Senior Reporter at Nationwide News Network (NNN). His primary areas of focus are Court, Crime and Parliamentary proceedings. Fitz-Henley was recently recognized in the regional celebrity magazine publication Panache as “The Breaking News Boss”. At 21 years of age, following his 1st year in media, Fitz-Henley was recognized with the Young Journalist of the year award from The Press Association of Jamaica and went on to cop one of the country’s highest recognized journalism prizes, the Journalist of the Year Award. He’s also been awarded the prestigious Corporate Jamaica Broilers Fairplay 1st place Award for investigative journalism and is the recipient of the Caribbean Blog Award for coverage of the infamous Kartel murder trial. Fitz-Henley is also the recipient of the PM Youth Award for Excellence. Over the years, he has appeared as a guest on the BBC World Service and BBC London.